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The Romantics, The Lessers, and The Truth




When it comes to farming, there are many misconceptions. Life on the farm can be a rollercoaster ride. Some days one may feel they are on top of the world, slaying it at life and living the dream. Other days, one questions their sanity, feels defeated, and knows there is an easier lifestyle to be led. And then there are the other days where one is happy and content because nothing has gone wrong, everything is status quo, and life is just a quiet pattern of lather, rinse, repeat. Those days are the most frequent and, if I’m honest, some of the best days.


When dealing with the public, we run into two prevalent mindsets. The first is what I call the romantics. They are usually city/town dwellers who have an idyllic view of rural living. They believe farm life is sipping coffee on the porch to watch the sunrise, life with animals is fun, carefree, and rewarding, and that farmers are one with the land, have freedom from “the man,” and work for themselves. These individuals believe that farming is all about keeping bees that don’t sting, gardens that don’t grow weeds, flower beds, and sunshine, with animals who behave, don’t get sick and don’t poo. Not exactly a realistic picture, but it’s a nice picture. It’s not entirely inaccurate; it’s just idyllic.


The other predominant mindset we run into is the lessers. The lessers are individuals who view farming and country life as lesser. Farmers are less intelligent, less worldly, less cultured, less educated. They believe that farmers earn their living by back-breaking labor, take advantage of their animals, use them as commodities, and are incapable of caring, concern, or feeling toward their creatures. Often these individuals make condescending remarks or question our ethics in the treatment of our goats. These individuals are by far the most annoying to deal with and leave one feeling grumpy about humankind.


The truth is, most farmers I know do what they do because they love it. Most have worked “mainstream” jobs, had careers in various fields from law to teaching, from corporate to military, and have chosen this life and this lifestyle because they felt a calling. They choose this lifestyle because they find it personally rewarding, need to escape the rat race, and value hard work. Most of the farmers I know enjoy personal challenges, love animals, and have a passion for the land.


The Bibbed Wonder and I, for example, both have degrees in education. I taught for ten years, earned a Master’s equivalency in secondary education, and had goals of earning my doctorate and teaching at the college level. Eric has a degree in secondary math education but worked in the gas industry. We chose this lifestyle because when we adopted Jordan, our world changed along with our goals. I wanted to be the one to rear my child, see all her firsts, and be in the center of her world. Eric wasn’t happy seeing us on weekends and traveling for weeks at a time. We began our small soap business because we got goats as pets. We didn’t get goats to use to make money. Our journey evolved very organically.


The reality is, most farmers genuinely care for their animals. We go a little extreme and view them as an extension of our family and treat them with a lot of love, care, and respect. All our animals are with us because we got them as pets. Even Boris, the Christmas pig, came to us with the mindset that we wanted a pet boy for Eric’s sows. We also got into heritage breed pigs because 1) Eric really likes pigs, 2) sadly, heritage livestock breeds are going extinct due to commercial farming practices, 3) it’s a lot of fun. Our “goatsies” are our pets. We don’t worry about champion bloodlines or perfect body composition. We love their personalities, their good manners, and their lovely dispositions. Again, it’s about having fun and creating a rewarding life.


The reality is, yes, farming is hard work. Sometimes, as a farmer, one has to make difficult choices to better the farm and the herd’s well-being. We can’t keep every baby that is born here. Not every piglet born is going to grow up to carry on their breed’s population. Animals poo and poo has to be cleaned. There is loss and sadness, but there is also achievement and reward. There are mornings we sit and watch the sunrise from the front porch. There are evenings we watch the sunset with a glass of wine or a highball and a good cigar. There are also mornings we don’t see the sunrise because we have been up all night with an emergency or an illness. And there are also days we don’t go into the house to eat or shower until the sun has set. We don’t lead a perfect life, nor are we barbaric bumpkins. Like everyone else, life is a mixed bag of ups and downs, good and bad. We might be a little more resilient than others, but I believe anyone can rise to any occasion.


I tend to believe the romantics have a more accurate picture of farm life than the lesser. However, I am a bit of a romantic myself, so there is that…insert wink. Whatever you believe, dear reader, just be sure to stay safe, be smart, don’t make assumptions about anyone, and keep washing your hands.

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